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Baghdad isn’t the only place where recruiters are having trouble getting young Iraqi men to join the coalition of the willing.

A frustrated Sgt. Cameron Murad spends his time trolling the streets of El Cajon, looking to recruit Arab speakers from the city’s sizeable population of Iraqi immigrants to serve as translators. A Kurdish immigrant himself, Murad’s daily struggles to find recruits and his own difficulties as a Muslim serving in the military were chronicled in a fascinating profile published Saturday in The New York Times.

There are countless hard jobs for American soldiers supporting the occupation of Iraq. Few seem more impossible than the one assigned to Sergeant Murad. As the conflict grows increasingly violent and unpopular, the sergeant must persuade native Arabic speakers to enlist and serve with front-line troops.

Nonetheless, Murad has managed to recruit 10 men in little more than a year, making him amongst the most prolific recruiters in the Army National Guard, The Times reported.

Along the way, Murad’s been called “raghead” and “the Taliban” by other soldiers and shunned by the community he’s trying to penetrate.

“I feel like a nomad in the middle of the desert, looking for green pastures,” Murad said.

DANIEL STRUMPF

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